Thanet District Council Corporate Complaints Policy
Version 2 April 2019
1.1 Thanet District Council aims to provide the best service it can to the Community and is committed to providing high quality services to our customers. However, we do recognise that we will not always get it right and we need you to tell us where things go wrong, so that we can improve for the future. This policy sets out how we define complaints and how we will respond to them.
1.2 We recognise the value of customer feedback as it is an important form of feedback on our services. Where appropriate we will use the information from complaints to inform service improvements.
2.0 What is a complaint
2.1 Complaints are a result of dissatisfaction with the service provided. We define a complaint as:
“An expression of dissatisfaction or concern about the delivery of a service which makes the individual feel like the Council has let them down; either by doing something wrong or by failing to meet service standards or through repeated incidents of service failure”.
3.0 What is not a complaint under this policy
3.1 A complaint is not a request for service or an enquiry about a service. In general, the following issues will be treated as part of the council’s normal business rather than through the complaints process. Examples of this could include:
- General enquiries
- Initial requests for service
- Initial reporting of faults (e.g. first missed refuse collection)
3.2 There will be occasions when a complaint is not dealt with under this policy as there are separate appeal or review procedures that these would be processed through. These will be:
- Planning appeals
- Parking appeals
- Legal action – Matters that are the subject of ongoing legal action
- Complaints about Councillors
- Data Protection and Freedom of Information Act – Complaints about issues covered by the UK GDPR, Data Protection Act 2018 or the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
- Housing Benefit appeals
4.0 Complaints made on behalf of someone else
4.1 Complaints will normally only be accepted directly from the complainant, however, we do recognise that there may be occasions when a customer is unable to register a complaint themselves. Complaints made by a representative will have to comply with the following requirements:
We must have written authority from the customer (or from their executor or administrator of their estate) to deal with the representative acting on their behalf.
4.2 Information can be disclosed to Members of Parliament and elected members who have stated in writing that they are acting for the complainant, they will be assumed to have consent to act without the need for the complainant’s written authority.
5.0 Anonymous Complaints
5.1 We will not normally investigate anonymous complaints as it will not be possible for us to respond to them. We will, however, make a decision on a case by case basis as to whether the complaint should be investigated further.
6.0 Time limit for making a complaint
6.1 We will not normally consider a complaint that is made more than twelve months after the individual first became aware of the issue they want to complain about. This is in line with good practice as operated by the Local Government Ombudsman. There are exceptions to this where the council may accept that such a delay was reasonable.
7.0 Contracted out services
7.1 Where the service complained about is provided by a contractor, the contractor will be required to investigate and respond in the first instance. Customers who remain dissatisfied after their complaint has been investigated by the contractor will be able to request a review of the complaint by the Council.
If you wish to complain about the services provided by a Council contractor you can view the list of contractors here.
8.0 Unreasonably persistent or vexatious complaints
8.1 On the rare occasion when a customer makes a complaint in an unreasonable way: repeatedly, obsessively or aggressively for example this will be dealt with under the Council’s Vexatious or Unreasonably Persistent Complaints Policy.
8.2 The term ‘persistent and unreasonable complainant’ broadly applies to those customers who are aggressive or have demonstrated abusive behaviour, as well as those who make unreasonable demands or become unreasonable persistent. In such cases we may take action to limit the contact the complainant has with us.
8.3 Once complainants have been classified as unreasonably persistent and/or vexatious, the length and nature of any restrictions on contact will be applied with a specified review date. Unless there are good grounds to extend these, restrictions will be lifted at the review date and the complainant advised accordingly. The complainant will also be advised, with reasons, if the restrictions are to be extended together with a new review date.
8.4 Where unreasonably persistent and/or vexatious status is withdrawn, normal contact with complainants and application of the complaints procedures will be resumed.
8.5 If the complainant is unhappy about the decision to place their name on the unreasonably persistent and/or vexatious complaints list, they may write to the Director of Corporate Governance to review the decision setting out the reasons why they wish the decision to be reviewed.
8.6 If after the complainant has received a decision in writing following the review with which they do not agree or feel is unreasonable they may refer the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman, PO Box 4771, Coventry, CV4 0EH.
9.0 Complaints Procedure
9.1 The Customer Feedback Team will acknowledge a complaint within two working days of receipt
10.1 Customers may also provide compliments or expressions of gratitude to particularly officers or services. These will be recorded and forwarded to the relevant service area.
Alternatively complaints can be made in writing either by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to:
Thanet District Council
P. O. Box 9
Or by contacting Customer Services on (01843) 577000.
11.0 Equalities and Diversity
11.1 We want customers to be able to communicate with us and access our services easily. It is important that you let us know if you prefer to communicate with us and access our information in a particular way. For example, if you need help making a complaint and English is not your first, or preferred language, or you have a disability that makes communicating with us more difficult, please tell us and we will arrange for someone to help you. If you require information in an alternative format please let us know and, where feasible, we will provide it.
12.0 General Data Protection Regulation
12.1 All correspondence received by the Council is subject to the Freedom of Information and Environmental Information laws and, in certain circumstances, may need to be made public. We will, however, respect legitimate expectations for confidentiality and we will keep to the relevant privacy laws.
12.2 We will use the personal information you give us only to deal with your feedback and, where necessary, to put things right. In the case of complaints, we will give details to the people who need them in order to investigate and resolve the matter.
12.3 We will not give your personal details to any third party unless they have a need to know (for example, if a complaint relates to the actions of one of our contractors, or if the Local Government Ombudsman is investigating).
12.4 When dealing with complaints, we also protect the identity of other people who may be involved. So there may be times when we will not be able to give you personal information about other people (for example, witnesses to incidents or other people complaining).
13.0 Policy Review
13.1 This policy will be reviewed every 4 years, or earlier at the request of either staff or management, or in light of any changes to legislation or national guidance.